Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Harvest fatigue

Posted by: Martha Buns under Vegetables Updated: September 12, 2012 - 7:07 AM

Every year in late summer I eventually change my usual walking route to avoid going past the house where they don't pick their tomatoes. The garden is right by the street, so it's hard to avert my gaze from the sight of all those lush, ripe tomatoes that rot on the vines before falling to the ground.

Even with the best intentions, most of us have had a few hidden tomatoes get past peak, only to find them on the ground half-eaten. It happens. And many of us reach a point where the last thing we want to deal with is one more of whatever it is we're overrun with. When I went out to pick some herbs and kale for a roasted veggie tomato soup, I wound up finding eight more tomatoes to add to the bowl. And the next day when I went out to pick a mound of cucumbers to put up relish, a few more tomatoes, some broccoli and beans hitchhiked in with the bowl. At some point, you secretly or not so secretly wish the bounty would cut you some slack. Enough already.

But the household whose garden I detour away from never seems to manage to pick a single tomato, as nearly as I can tell. I don't know the residents, so I try to devise a back story that would excuse such a waste of food and effort. One wants to think well of anyone who tries to garden. Sometimes life intervenes in a big way, and fresh produce doesn't wait for you to surface. And maybe they were novice gardeners who discovered they didn't have the time to keep up, and they keep planting every year, hoping this one will be different. But for the past five years or so, they've planted several tomato plants with no signs of ever enjoying a BLT or salad caprese. They clearly have been watering, or their vines wouldn't be in such good shape, so it's not as if they don't care at all. I can see if it was something like eggplant, something that takes time to make into a meal, but tomatoes are good to go as is.

Part of my fixation with this particular garden is doubtless driven by envy. It's got fantastic southern exposure, resulting in tomatoes that are right out of central casting. If Hollywood ever makes a movie about tomatoes, these beauties are ready for their closeup.

Maybe it's time to change the phrase to as you pick, so shall you reap. And now it's time to get off my soapbox, because I'm sure some other more diligent gardener is detouring to avoid looking at my garden, muttering: "If they went to the trouble of planting the garden, why don't they do a better job of weeding it?" Sorry; I'm too busy trying to keep up with harvesting it.

Are you still in full harvest mode or are you ready to cry uncle?

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